Problems from Reid

Problems from Reid

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James Van Cleve here shows why Thomas Reid (1710-96) deserves a place alongside the other canonical figures of modern philosophy. He expounds Reidas positions and arguments on a wide range of topics, taking interpretive stands on points where his meaning is disputed and assessing the value of his contributions to issues philosophers are discussing today.

Among the topics Van Cleve explores are Reid's account of perception and its relation to sensation, conception, and belief; his nativist account of the origin of the concepts of space and power; his attempt to clear the way for the belief that the things we directly perceive are external things, not ideas in our minds; his stand on the distinction between primary and secondary qualities; his account of "acquired perception," whereby we come to stand in a quasi-perceptual relation to qualities
not originally perceived; his claim that visual space is non-Euclidean; his answers to the questions why we see the world right side up with inverted retinal images and whether a newly sighted person would recognize by sight the shapes he previously knew by touch; whether memory, like perception, is a
form of direct awareness; and how we manage to conceive of things that are utterly nonexistent. Also examined are Reid's account of human knowledge by means of "first principles," his externalist reply to philosophical skepticism, his volitional theory of action, his use of the distinction between event causation and agent causation to understand freedom of the will, and his criticism of Hume and anticipation of Moore on the analysis of moral judgment.

The most comprehensive work on Reid in a quarter century, this book will be welcomed by students of early modern philosophy, epistemology, the philosophy of perception, and the philosophy of action.
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Product details

  • Hardback | 568 pages
  • 170 x 235 x 42mm | 884g
  • New York, United States
  • English
  • 17 illustrations
  • 0199857032
  • 9780199857036
  • 2,904,110

Table of contents

Acknowledgments ; Introduction ; Chapter 1: Sensation and Perception ; A. Explanations of Terms ; B. Sensation versus Perception ; C. Reid's Threefold Account of Perception ; D The Conception in Perception ; E. Perception and Belief ; F. Consciousness and Attention ; G. Are Sensations Self-Reflexive? ; Chapter 2: Reid's Nativism ; A. Reid's Nativism ; B. Natural Signs ; C. The Experimentum Crucis ; D. Responses to the Experimentum Crucis ; E. Woulds, Coulds, or Shoulds? ; F. Nativism as an Antidote to Skepticism? ; Chapter 3: Direct Realism Versus the Way of Ideas ; A. The Way of Ideas ; B. First Argument for the Way of Ideas: No Action at a Distance ; C. Second Argument for the Way of Ideas: Hume's Table Argument ; D. Third Argument for the Way of Ideas: Double Vision ; E. Fourth Argument for the Way of Ideas: Malebranche's Master Argument ; F. Three Forms of Direct Realism ; G. Do Sensations Obstruct Direct Realism? ; H. Is Reid a Presentational Direct Realist? ; I. All Perception is Direct Perception ; Chapter 4: Primary and Secondary Qualities ; A. Reid's Relation to Locke and Berkeley ; B. The Real Foundation: Epistemological or Metaphysical? ; C. Dispositions or Bases? ; D. Intrinsic or Extrinsic? ; E. Fixed or Variable? ; F. Four Views that Conflict with Reid's ; Chapter 5: Acquired Perception ; A. The Mechanics of Acquired Perception ; B. Is Acquired Perception Really Perception? ; C. Are Secondary Qualities Objects of Acquired Perception Only? ; D. Does Acquired Perception Alter the Content of our Original Perceptions? ; E. Could Anything Become an Object of Acquired Perception? ; F. Is Reid Inconsistent about the Requisites of Perception? ; Chapter 6: The Geometry of Visibles ; A. The Properties of Spherical Figures ; B. Depth is Not Perceived ; C. The Argument from Indistinguishability ; D. Visibles as Sense Data ; E. Coincidence as Identity ; F. Angell's Approach ; G. The Argument of Paragraph 4 ; H. The Real Basis of the Geometry of Visibles ; I. Does the Geometry of Visibles Jeopardize Direct Realism? ; J. What Are Visibles? ; K. Direct Realism and Seeing What we Touch ; L. Visible Figure as a Relativized Property of Ordinary Objects ; M. Mediated but Direct? ; Chapter 7: Erect and Inverted Vision ; A. The Naive Puzzle and Rock's Question ; B. The Classical Solution ; C. Berkeley's Solution(s) to the Naive Puzzle ; D. Reid's Alternative to Berkeley's Solution ; E. Answers to Rock's Question ; F. Experiments with Inverting Lenses ; G. Perceptual Adaptation ; Chapter 8: Molyneux's Question ; A. Molyneux's Question ; B. Empirical Evidence ; C. Berkeley's Answer ; D. Reid's answer(s) ; E. Is Berkeley's Modus Tollens Reid's Modus Ponens? ; F. The One-Two Molyneux Question ; G. Concluding Confession ; Chapter 9: Memory and Personal Identity ; A. Things Obvious and Certain with Regard to Memory ; B. Critique of the Impression and Idea Theories of Memory ; C. Memory as Direct Awareness of Things Past ; D. The Specious Present ; E. Personal Identity ; Chapter 10: Conception and its Objects ; A. Was Reid a Meinongian before Meinong? ; B. Alternatives to Meinongism: Ideas and Universals ; C. Alternatives to Meinongism: The Adverbial Theory of Thinking ; D. A Meinongian Defense of Direct Realism ; E. Assessment of the Defense ; F. Direct Realism Redux ; Chapter 11: Epistemology 1: First Principles ; A. First Principles and Epistemic Principles ; B. A Crucial Ambiguity ; C. Clues from Reid's Discussion of Descartes ; D. Particulars Versus Generals ; E. Three Reasons for Particularism ; F. Other Minds and Natural Signs ; G. Must Principles Be General? ; H. Establishing Reliability Without Circularity ; I. Reid on Confirming the Testimony of our Faculties ; J. Can Epistemic Principles Be First Principles? ; K. The Epistemic Status of Reliability Principles ; L. Conclusion ; Chapter 12: Epistemology 2: Reid's Response to the Skeptic ; A. Direct Realism ; B. Naturalism ; C. Externalism ; D. Problems for Externalism ; E. Rationalist Alternatives ; F. Conclusion ; Chapter 13: Epistemology 3: Lehrer's Reid ; A. Must a Knower Know that his Faculties are Reliable? ; B. A Special Role for Principle 7? ; C. Faculties that Vouch for Themselves? ; Chapter 14: Theory of Action 1: Causation, Action, and Volition ; A. The Notion of Active Power ; B. Two Types of Causation ; C. Universal Agent Causation ; D. Action and Volition ; Chapter 15: Theory of Action 2: Determinism, Freedom, and Agency ; A. Two Forms of Determinism ; B. What Freedom is not: the Williwig Account ; C. What Freedom is: the Agent-Causation Account ; D. The Fundamental Dilemma for Libertarianism ; E. The Regress of Exertion ; F. The Regress of Agent Causation ; G. Anomic Explanation ; Chapter 16: Reid versus Hume on Morals ; A. Hume and Reid in the Broad Scheme of Things ; B. Reid against Hume ; C. Hume against Reid ; D. Ethics and Epistemology ; Appendices ; A. Is There Knowledge by Acquaintance? ; B. Conception and Judgment: the Chicken or the Egg? ; C. Experience as a Source of Concepts ; D. Perception as Analog Representation ; E. Byrne versus Reid ; F. Infinity and Reflexivity ; G. Externality and Extension ; H. Programming the Obvious ; I. The Sun in the Sky and the Sun in my Mind ; J. Secondary Qualities: Can We Have it Both Ways? ; K. The One-Point Argument ; L. Stereo Sue ; M. Hyperbolic Claims about Hyperbolic Geometry ; N. What Is Special about the Sphere? ; O. Is Reid's Geometry Imaginable? ; P. Forlorn Reflections ; Q. Ask Marilyn ; R. Stratton Overturned ; S. Molyneux's Question Answered after 300 Years? ; T. Relative Identity ; U. Locke, Berkeley, Hume, and Reid on Abstract Ideas ; V. The First Principles of Contingent Truths ; W. Reid on the First Principle(s) of Descartes ; X. Rowe's Regress ; Y. Volition and Undertaking ; Z. Reid, Chisholm, Taylor, and Ginet ; Bibliography ; Index
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Review quote

Terrific book-learned, relentlessly interesting, and astonishingly clear in its argumentation. * Rex Welshon, University of Colorado at Colorado Springs * James Van Cleve has written a delightful book on Reid. It is engaging, informative, brilliant, and compelling. * Lorne Falkenstein, University of Western Ontario * If you have any interest in Reid and have some time to spare, then read it. Even if you are not much interested in Reid but want a vivid example of how to write history of philosophy, then read this book. Even if you are not much interested in the history of philosophy but wonder whether you should be, then read this book. You will be treated to a discussion whose level of scholarship, quality of prose and argumentation, and sensitivity to Reid's problems (and ours)
is exceptional. * Terence Cuneo, Notre Dame Philosophical Reviews Online *
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About James Van Cleve

James Van Cleve is Professor of Philosophy at the University of Southern California, having moved there in 2005 after teaching for many years at Brown University. He is the author of Problems from Kant (OUP, 1999) as well as over forty-five articles in epistemology and metaphysics.
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